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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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By unknown | May 14, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

Foreign nationals who suffered xenophobic attacks in Alexandra, northeastern Johannesburg, say they want to return to their homelands - as soon as they can.

About 1000 displaced foreign nationals yesterday still packed the Alexandra police station for refuge after being attacked in their shacks on Sunday night.

Charity organisations arrived with food and clothes for the homeless who had crowded into the police station.

Two people were killed and 60 injured when a mob attacked the Alexandra area occupied by foreigners.

"Two women were raped during the violence but we have already arrested two men for those crimes," said police spokesman Constable Neria Malefetse.

Malefetse said that by yesterday they had arrested a total of 50 people in connection with the violence.

They face charges of murder, attempted murder, public violence and being in possession of stolen goods.

Malefetse said members of the Alexandra community accused the foreign nationals of being responsible for the crimes in their area.

"They [the attackers] got into my shack, took my stove, valuables and R3500," said Teressa Mhlanga, one of the victims.

"Then they took me outside and one hit me with a fist on my left eye."

"I now want to go back to Zimbabwe but I do not have the money."

Sam Kobedi, 62, born and bred in Alexandra, said the situation was extremely tense and he was scared.

"We are living in fear because we do not know what might happen to us," Kobedi said.

An urgent meeting, attended by senior police officials, representatives of the Human Rights Commission, political leaders, and the officials Department of Justice, was held at the police station.

"We condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms and resolve to support the call for a summit on xenophobia," said Alexandra Community Policing Forum chairman Thomas Sithole.

"We are concerned about it being poor blacks who were attacking poor blacks in this violent act, so we are pushing for a summit on xenophobia," said Human Rights Commission chief executive Tseliso Thipanyane.

Thipanyane admitted that the attacks were a sign that the methods being used to address xenophobia had not been successful.

Gauteng PAC chairman Thami Ka Plaatjie said economic factors could have played a large part in explaining such behaviour.

Local counsellor William Chuene said: "We will try to normalise the situation and those who are not afraid to go back to their houses will do so

"Arrangements might be made later for people who want to go back to their homelands."


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